India captain heaped praise on veteran MS Dhoni stating that he was lucky to have him behind the stumps. The former India captain is often seen helping Kohli with field placements in the back end of the innings.
“He doesn’t just make minor adjustments,” Kohli said in an interview with India Today.
“To have a person who knows the game inside out and understands things from ball one to ball 300 – I wouldn’t say it’s a luxury to have, I’ll actually say I’m fortunate to have a mind like that behind the stumps who can see the game so clearly. Because at the end of the day, I want to be involved in strategy with the team management and everyone.”
Kohli revealed that he often picks Dhoni’s brains during team meetings. “We speak to Mahi bhai [Dhoni] and Rohit [Sharma] and we all have a healthy discussion together,” he said.
“Eventually, at the death overs I know I need to be in the outfield as well to try and make a play for the team. That’s my nature; that I want to do something for the team rather than just being there on the field. After 30-35 overs, he knows I’m going to be in the outfield.
“It’s just about the bowling changes and field placements where we totally say, you know the angles and the pace of the wicket and everything that’s happening in the game. And that is where there’s so much trust and respect between the both of us.”
Dhoni’s topsy-turvy form with the bat came for some criticism in recent times and the 30-year-old defended him. Kohli pointed out that the former captain had given him opportunities when was trying to cement a spot in the side.
“It was unfortunate to see people go after him. For me, loyalty matters the most,” Kohli said.
“When I walked into the team, he had the chance of trying someone else after a few games. Although I did grab my opportunities really early, he gave me the opportunity to understand my game and take the time required. So for me those things are very important because I know the kind of phase I was going through. And if he’s going through a phase where he has to work things out, he deserves that respect. It’s not like I gave it to him.”
Kohli added, “You look at what he has done for India, no one can give him that space. He deserves it. So we were just doing our bit to tell people to think in the same manner. It’s not like we are giving him something, he deserves it. And he’s intelligent enough to know what’s going on in his game and in his cricket.”
Dhoni picked up form in recent times, playing an important role in India’s One-day International series win in Australia.
“It was important to give him space,” Kohli said about Dhoni’s lean patch with the bat. “People didn’t have patience at that time but now after 12 months people are saying that he is the most important factor in the World Cup, which is true. We knew it deep down all along, it was just about letting that phase go through. He is what he is. We don’t need to discuss that.”